I am blessed to be working with a fabulous intern (pre-service teacher, student teacher, whatever you want to call her) this semester. She is thoughtful, bright, interested in learning and in the students, and a delightful person. To be honest, most of the interns I have worked with in the past dozen years have been this way. This one, while being fabulous in all those ways, has also had to step up like nobody's business. I had a couple of conferences scheduled this semester meaning a few days out plus some doctors' appointments for me and my daughters. Then we had the minor crisis with our daughter which involved even more absences. Finally, there have been a surprising number of meetings and inservices required by my school/district. So this phenomenal intern has taken over for many days, planned and unexpected, with grace, flexibility, and competence.
Inevitably, no matter how stellar the intern, we always hit a point at which we need to be eating lunch with kiddos. We do this two or three times each week with a couple of students at a time. The goal is to build rapport and get to know the students outside of the academic setting. In the past, I've assumed this was necessary because some interns struggle with all they are balancing and need an extra push to focus on their relationships with students. But now I'm not so sure.
I get a grace period with my students at the start of each year. We have something of a honeymoon as we all get to know each other. As a result, I get to know them and build relationships during a lovely time. An intern, who joins us in January, is stepping into established routines and personalities, for all the good and bad that entails. My relationships with the students impacts hers - which can help or hinder depending on me. The kids' relationships with each other also impact how she perceives them. She doesn't really get to start fresh. Eating lunch together breaks down those walls a bit, opens up new views of each other.
The downside? I don't like giving up my lunchtime! That's why we only do it two or three times each week. In the moment, I love the time with the kids. But I also definitely need time without them during the day.